An (almost) tear-free conference

On Thursday evening, Peter and I went to parent-teacher conferences. I had taken the day off from work since Philip was sick, so we didn’t have to rush there. In fact, even though we ran an errand first, we ended up arriving a good fifteen minutes early.

As it turned out, the dad who had the conference before us was already standing in the doorway wrapping up his conversation when we showed up outside Mrs. P’s classroom.

She ushered us in, asking how Philip was feeling. That morning, he had missed the field trip to the grocery store that concluded the “My Community” unit. We chatted about how much he enjoyed the previous week’s visit to Home Depot. Mrs. P showed us the station in the classroom where students can work with hammer and nails. Philip really enjoys this.

It was time to review Philip’s report card.

“Most of these skills are not marked,” said Mrs. P. She explains that even though she feels he knows many things, she is unable to assess or observe them during the limited time in the classroom.

This is not the first time that she has told us this. I remember holding back tears during the first conference a year ago when none of the content areas were marked. That page of unmeasured skills looked so daunting. At that time, we couldn’t even begin to worry about geometry or geography. Philip had to first learn the routines and expectations of a classroom. More importantly, his body was so dysregulated, he needed sensory input more than intellectual input.

A year later, Philip no longer has to leave the room during circle time. Since the start of this school year he has transitioned from sitting in a buckled chair to sitting on the floor with the rest of the class during circle time.

This was just one of many examples of progress. There wasn’t enough time to talk about all of the growth that we’ve witnessed at home or to hear about each small success in the classroom. Because of this, we are uncertain about his placement next fall. He will remain with Mrs. P, but we will need to decide whether Philip should remain in the morning class or follow some of his peers into the afternoon session, the one for children preparing for kindergarten.

Mrs. T, Philip’s speech therapist, joined us during the last half of the conference. Everyone agreed that Philip is making great strides with his iPad and speech app. He is starting to say so many new words, that we’ve all stopped keeping track.

Before we knew it, our time was up. Peter and I had asked our list of questions, had a list of things we wanted to do at home and had heard about many of the great things that Philip was accomplishing.

“Well, that was a great conference,” said Mrs. T. “No crying!”

I looked over at Peter. I could see his eyes glistening. I had to look away before I joined him.

It was a great conference.

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